Velato: What if Musical Notes Had Their Own Programming Language?

Photo (CC) Quinn Dombrowski. Composing music is not unlike programming – and either, at their best, can be expressive. In the early days of IT (before “IT” was even a term), many computer programmers came from a musical background. (And even early in the computer age, there was more call for software than symphonies – and more pay.) But what if you could program music easily, using musical syntax in a programming language? That’s the question asked by languages like Velato. The commands actually aren’t as esoteric as you might expect; they include references to standard pitch and commands like …

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Generative Music Interfaces of the Future – Look to Games?

I’m going to make this a minimalist post because I’ve said what I’ll say about Kodu, the one really cool part of Microsoft’s keynote yesterday, on Create Digital Motion. (Am I the only person who wishes Sparrow had just done the whole keynote?) But have a look at the shot above. One of the complaints about generative and algorithmic music software (and music software in general) is that the interface has been so complex. Clearly, there are many other ways to design these interfaces, and in turn, to shape the way we use these to compose and perform music. Forget …

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Help! I’m Trapped in an Acid-Colored Wash of a Thousand General MIDI Pianos!

Better support for music and audio is still evolving (as well as lots of stability and compatibility improvements), but I have faith open-source coding tool Processing [site | on cdmu | on cdmo ] could yield wonderful new visual interfaces for music. Daniel Piker has the latest addition, inspired by a recent post here: FizzyNumberMusicMaker at Open Processing, a site for sharing Processing sketches – warning, makes sound immediately! Built on the Game of Life ideas from our friend wesen (of ruin & wesen), this project uses colored cells to trigger elaborate washes of piano sound. He writes: If the …

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Hands-on with Bloom, New Generative iPhone App by Eno and Chilvers

Bloom is a new generative musical application for iPhone and iPod touch, created by Brian Eno and software designer Peter Shilvers. It’s quite simple, but if you’re looking for some soothing musical strains to float out of your mobile Apple device, this is your ticket. At launch, you’re given a choice of either using a pre-determined set of rules, or tapping in your own parameters and patterns. The touch interface lets you use your fingers to add note patterns, which then repeat and mutate. If you make your own composition, you’ll start those patterns from a blank slate, but even …

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Audio Damage Automaton is Here: Artificial Life-Driven, Stuttering Effects Plug-in

What’s in for this season in music software? Cellular automata. You may have been exposed to a cellular automaton in the classic Game of Life; it’s basically a very simple biological simulator exposed as an intuitive, 2-dimensional grid of squares. If tic-tac-toe, Charles Darwin, and a petri dish of bacteria got together in one wild evening, you’d come up with something like this as a result. The Game of Life has been around since mathematician John Conway invented it in 1970, but lately it’s been cross-bred with music software to help patterns escape the rigid, boring repetition of traditional sequencer …

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iPhone/Touch Roundup: Control, Art, Snow Patrol, Visualizers, Recording, One for India

What could a pocket-sized computer be? It could be a new kind of album extra (yawn), a new kind of generative musical format that samples and responds to the world around it (whoo). It could be a more effective controller (fun), or an Indian drone (really). The Apple iPod touch / iPhone, as always, brings both wonder (potential as an art platform or recording device) and trouble (respectively, restrictions on who can see your art and problems actually getting mic input or transferring files). So here’s this week’s snapshot of what’s happening on Apple’s micro-sized pocket Mac phone mediaplayer thing. …

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Nodal: Generative Music Software for Mac (Free for Non-Commercial Use)

If you’re interested in generative and algorithmic music – music that evolves organically rather than being pre-composed in start-to-finish linear fashion – you won’t want to miss this site. Nodal is a free (for non-commercial use) app for developing generative musical systems and transmitting MIDI. You’ll need a Mac (PowerPC/Intel) to run the software, but even if you’re on Windows or Linux, you’ll find a number of interesting research papers on the site. vinayk writes: The program is called Nodal – osx only, BEAUTIFUL interface, and FREE, it does a bit more sophisticated things but I basically plugged the output …

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glitchDS: Free Cellular Automaton Music Sequencer

The clever musical gems for the Nintendo DS just keep coming. Nintendo’s handheld game console, in my mind, wins hands-down among mobile platforms in terms of sheer choice, even though the homebrew development is entirely unsanctioned by Nintendo. The latest entry: glitchDS, a clever sequencer that uses a cellular automaton (a simple, grid-based model of the evolution of cellular structures). CA, particularly John Conway’s Game of Life rendition from the 70s, has been applied to music before; there’s a powerful version in the Newscool preset in Reaktor 5. But this happens to be particularly well-suited to a touchscreen, and to …

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Beamz Laser Harp Makes Faux Music, Demeans Girl in Penguin Sweater

You’re not cool now? You will be, as your hands dance to the rhythm through the magical lasers. A few moments of your playing, and nothing could possibly convince me that you didn’t grow up on the streets of Jamaica, banging oil drums you salvaged and hammered into shape. Whoops, sorry — had to snap out of that for a second. So, okay — it seems the beamz laser harp we saw last week comes with special algorithmic software that makes music play basically regardless of what you do. The problem with laser harps in general is they tend to …

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Robots Can Be Friendly, Groovin’: Max-Powered Keepon and Beatbots

The Keepon is a cute, yellow robot that dances to music you may have seen bopping on YouTube. It shows how subtle changes could make robotics friendlier in the near future. Foremost among those changes: show a little skin. By wrapping the robot’s armature with soft, rubber skin, the Keepon is both squeezable and more lifelike. (After all, how many people / pets / creature friends do you know who don’t have a skeleton and skin? Yes, you with the pet beetle, you’re an exception.) Second, and earning the Keepon YouTube fame and glory, the BeatBots know how to shake …

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